Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) continued their winning ways in their 2018 Super League campaign after recording a 3-0 win over minnows PKNP FC. It was their second match played at Tan Sri Dato Hj Hassan Yunos Stadium in four days as they gave PKNP a harsh lesson on life in the top division.
Jorge Pereyra Diaz opened his account in his third stint with the club with a well-taken goal minutes before half time. Fadhli Shas made sure of the three points after he was left umarked inside the penalty box to power home a header in the 58th minute to seal the match.
There was icing on the cake late on in added time as Ignacio 'Natxo' Insa swept home the third for a comprehensive win for the Southern Tigers. It's an ominous sign for the rest of the chasing pack in the Super League that the reigning champions have started in impressive form.
Here are the five talking points in an action-packed 90 minutes in Johor Bahru.
Haziq given a chance and took it with both hands
The goalkeeper was one of three changes made by Ulisses Morais compared to the first game against Kedah, with Haziq Nadzli replacing Izham Tarmizi in the starting line-up. Izham came under a lot of scrutiny for his part in the concession of the opening goal to Pablo Pallares last Saturday and that may well be the reason for him being on the bench this time around.
Haziq has shown in the recent AFC U23 Championship that he is the young pretender not only at club level but also for the senior national team. There's a growing maturity in his game and that is highlighted by the stop he did on Keo Sokpheng in the second half.
The Cambodian forward had already rounded Haziq but the latter kept his composure to recover quickly to make a great block on Sokpheng in his second attempt. JDT still have Farizal Marlias to come back from his ban but the one with the momentum now is surely the 20-year-old Haziq.
Corbin-Ong is making fans wonder 'Fazly who?'
Fast becoming a crowd favourite, La'Vere Corbin-Ong is ticking all the right boxes in his short time with the club. Fazly Mazlan has been the incumbent at left back but Corbin-Ong's performances in the first two league matches is making it hard for the former to find his place back in the team.
Corbin-Ong has the 'Delap-ness' in him, in the sense that he possess in his artillery, long throws that would match the former Stoke City midfielder. So far, it hasn't produced any goals yet but one situation in the second half when he made that throw from deep in his own half towards Luciano Figueroa who cannot be offside from a throw-in, suggest that it could be a weapon used in many ways.
The 26-year-old full back did however record his second assist of the season and is proving equally deadly on the ball as well. For the second time in as many matches, his delivery from the left hand side has resulted in a goal, this time laying it for Insa to turn in JDT's third of the night.
Losing Vickneswaran opened the game for the home side
Abu Bakar Fadzim came into the match with a game plan and it was one that was working until the 43rd minute of the first half, when Diaz found the back of the net. For the period preceding that goal, his team had defended comfortably and that came with deploying a 3-man defensive midfielder.
S. Vickneswaran, Anzite Franklin and Fadhil Idris were working in tandem for a big part of the first half and their presence was directly meant to stifle the creative influence of Safiq Rahim and Insa. At times, PKNP were able to double-team on each of the latter duo, whenever they had the ball and the home side were struggling to play around them.
The turning point came with the Diaz goal, one that was created from a set piece situation rather than normal play. It forced Abu Bakar to change his tact for the second half, searching for the equaliser by bringing on a wide attacker in Deevan Raj which finally released the shackles on JDT's midfield.
Adam Nor putting on an impressive debut in front the home fans
Morais made the right decision in giving Marcos Antonio a rest. The big Brazilian played in his first competitive match in over six months and a little bit of cautiousness shown after his anterior cruciate ligament injury was a good call.
That means Adam Nor Azlin was introduced into the starting line-up and for his first match in front of his own fans, Adam provided a perfect audition. Another one who had an impressive AFC U23 tournament, Adam hit the ground running for his new club. Of course, PKNP wasn't the sternest of test for Adam but he can only play what's in front of him.
Playing in a back four did not faze him and perhaps it will go a long way to prove that he could work well in that system too. His immaculate timing of his tackle came to the fore with that first half block on Yeon Gi-sung inside the penalty box, through he was fortunate not to see red for an overzealous high challenge on the same player later in the half.
JDT fans picking and choosing matches
It was clear for all to see, the Tan Sri Dato Hj Hassan Yunos was empty in blocks and it was a completely different scenario from the opening match against Kedah. Filled to the brim last Saturday, it wasn't the same case for PKNP's appearance in the stadium.
Yes, it's midweek. A working day and a schooling day. All perfectly acceptable reasons for less fans turning up for the match, compared to one that was played on a Saturday. But with it only being the second match of the season, it must not have been a great sight for the club.
Last season, the home fans have shown a tendency not to come out in full force for matches involving lesser teams and that is once again reflected by the crowd tonight.